Vetting and Barring Scheme and CRB checks

Expert guide on the Vetting and Barring Scheme and CRB checks

The Vetting and Barring Scheme is a national scheme for checking the suitability of those who work with children and vulnerable adults.

The previous barring lists (Protection of Children Act list, Protection of Vulnerable Adult list and List 99) were replaced in October 2009 by two new barred lists: one for those working with children and another for those working with vulnerable adults. These two lists are administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, rather than several government departments.

Checks of these new lists can be made as part of an enhanced CRB check. Under the Vetting and Barring Scheme, employers, social services and professional regulators have a duty to refer to the Independent Safeguarding Authority any information about individuals who may pose a risk ensuring potential threats to vulnerable groups can be identified and dealt with.

Legislation and latest policy

The Vetting and Barring Scheme was launched by Labour in October 2009 as a result of the Bichard Inquiry, which followed the Soham Murders. This inquiry recommended that all those who work with vulnerable groups should be registered.

The Vetting and Barring Scheme is supported by the legal framework of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and in Northern Ireland by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007.

In June 2010 the coalition government announced its intention to drastically remodel the Vetting and Barring Scheme back to what they referred to as “commonsense” levels.

The phased introduction of the Vetting and Barring Scheme was put on hold. This includes the controversial plan to vet an estimated nine million people. The full details and scope the remodelling of the scheme are still to be finalised.

Key issues

The elements of the Vetting and Barring Scheme implemented in October 2009 remain in place as do the existing requirements concerning CRB checks. There are criminal penalties for barred individuals who seek or undertake work with vulnerable groups and for employers who knowingly take them on.

The two levels of CRB check currently available are standard and enhanced disclosures. These two checks are available in cases where an employer is entitled to ask exempted questions under the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Standard CRB checks show current and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer. Enhanced CRB checks contain the same information as the standard disclosure but with the addition of any relevant information held by the local police forces as well as a check of both the children and vulnerable adults barred lists.

The process for CRB checks are unpopular with professionals who change jobs regularly, such as those on short term contracts or who work for several agencies, as these workers need a separate CRB check for each employer. See CareSpace debate.

Key organisations

The VBS is a partnership between the Independent Safeguarding Authority(ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and overseen by the Home Office

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is the body that checks police records and information held by the ISA who are responsible for the decision-making and maintenance of two lists: one for those barred from working with children and another for those barred from working with vulnerable adults.

Related articles on vetting and barring

Government reins in vetting and barring scheme

Independent Safeguarding Authority: Roger Singleton on Radio 4

Coalition promises to reduce inspection burden

Public funds and the CRB process: Join the debate on CareSpace

What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace

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